Divided into three sections, (“the Labyrinth”, “Production Activities”, “Epigraphy”) the “Underground City” Civic Museum of Chiusi enriches the panorama of the complex archaeological, historic, artistic, and geographic aspects of a city that already offers visitors a selection of important exhibition spaces (the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Cathedral) as well as monumental Etruscan tombs.
Visits start from the Palazzo delle Logge, where the “Labyrinth” section has been set up, its explanatory panels, interactive displays, photos and large models document the myth of the Etruscan king Porsenna, whose mausoleum is believed to lie at the heart of a labyrinth dug under Chiusi itself.
Exiting the section dedicated to the labyrinth, visitors come to Via Baldetti where they may see the sections called “Production Activities” and “Epigraphy”. The “Production Activities” section documents the development of the local economy, and offers a true journey through time, exploring the traditions of Chiusi and its surrounding territory. Agricultural equipment from the 19th and 20th century is displayed, while the underground rooms house ceramic kitchenware and tableware (1st century, A.D.) and an array of Etruscan and Roman transport amphorae, leading the way to an area where an Etruscan banquet is reproduced in silhouette, as we find depicted in the frescoes of the Colle Tomb of Chiusi.
The last portion of the Civic Museum is the “Epigraphy” section, located in the evocative Etruscan tunnels that wind for 140 metres and from which vistors may look down a monumental well-shaft and see a reservoir that lies 30 metres beneath the level of the streets above.
It is the only museum section in Italy devoted entirely to Etruscan epigraphy, containing 500 inscriptions on cinerary urns and tomb covers. The great number of inscriptions found in and around Chiusi (approximately 3,000 in total, dating from the end of the 2nd century B.C. to the beginning of the 1st century B.C.) has made it possible to reconstruct a sort of “Etruscan registry office” recording the history of families, of their parental ties, and even of the social rise of individual figures.